Strawberry shortcake is summer dessert at its most elemental and perhaps its finest. It's completely dependent on the quality of your berries; they should be rich and juicy. We feel that the best shortcake, however, also depends on the quality of the biscuit. There is a lot of bad shortcake out there - imposters like sponge shells and cakes stand in for what should be a plain, tender biscuit with only a hint of sweetness.
The best biscuits give a modest base for the rich cream and strawberry to sink into. This is our favorite recipe for shortcake biscuits, giving a soft, flaky base that is just sweet enough for the gorgeous berries in the markets.
D.I.Y. Strawberry Shortcake
Biscuit 2 cups cake flour 3 tablespoons white sugar 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup butter 1 egg 2/3 cup cream 1 teaspoon vanilla
Strawberries 1 quart strawberries 1 lemon, zest & juice 1/4 cup sugar
Cream 2 cups whipping cream 1/2 cup powdered sugar (or to taste) 1 teaspoon vanilla Pinch of salt
Heat oven to 400ºF. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment. Sift the dry ingredients for the biscuits together, then cut the butter in and work in with your fingers until it's in pea-sized lumps. Beat the egg with the cream and vanilla and add. Work in just until the dough comes together. Turn out onto a floured countertop and cut into rounds. Bake for 10 minutes or until just barely golden.
Hull and chop the strawberries and macerate for at least an hour with the lemon zest and sugar.
Beat the cream until it holds soft peaks. Add the sugar, vanilla and salt.
To serve, split each biscuit into two and layer with strawberries and cream.